Child custody rights in Texas are similar to custody rights throughout the United States. However, there are some key differences from other parts of the country that need to be mentioned and make Texas a unique state. Whether you are a mother or father in Texas, it’s important to have all of the information about custody rights before going into a child custody battle. Knowing your options for child custody will assist you in gaining rights to child custody and child support.
Child Custody Rights in Texas for Unmarried Mothers
A mother’s child custody rights in Texas vary depending on the state, and Texas is no different. Unmarried mothers, in comparison to unmarried fathers, automatically receive more parental rights. However, it is possible to revoke those rights in certain circumstances. Unmarried mothers in Texas function as the sole custodian of their child. This means that unwed mothers in Texas can make all legal decisions for their child without the father’s consent.
Until the father of a child proves his paternity, they cannot make any legal decisions and has no right to visitation under state law. Though fathers aren’t usually automatically the sole custodian for a child, they can prove their paternity to gain their child custody rights. Once a father establishes paternity, they have the ability to contest child custody in family court. Fathers may also be granted rights to visitation and child support depending on family court ruling.
Custody Rights for Married Mothers
If a mother is married, child custody rights In Texas are shared between parents until action is carried out in family court for divorce, which means the mother is prohibited from making any legal decisions for a child without the father’s consent. Moving a child’s residence without the father’s consent is illegal as well as many other things.
In particular circumstances involving a judge, the father of a child may be ruled unfit to care for a child, and in that case, the mother becomes sole custodian of the child. However, if the mother has filed for divorce, this doesn’t mean they are sole custodian. Until the divorce is finalized, the mother can’t make legal decisions for a child without the consent of the father under any circumstance.
After divorce, the mother of a child may receive custody rights based on certain criteria that a judge deliberates on. Some of these criteria include the child’s physical and emotional needs, ability to properly parent, the child’s wants, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any abuse or neglect. In some instances, Texas courts will allow for a mother to file for temporary custody before divorce.
Alongside temporary custody, a mother can also file for temporary child support, however, this is rarely granted if both parents currently reside in the same household. In the case that a mother loses a custody battle, the mother almost always receives visitation rights unless the court finds the mother unfit to see her child. Visitation time will vary greatly depending on a wide range of factors. The two most common factors that lengthen or shorten visitation time include a child’s age and place of residence.
Child Custody Rights in Texas for Unmarried Fathers
Unlike days past, fathers receive some child custody rights in Texas similar to those of a mother. However, as a father, you don’t become sole custodian of a child if you’re divorced with your wife. To become a sole custodian, fathers must establish their paternity and show the court he is the child’s biological father. There are two ways to establish paternity. The first is for a mother of a child to legally recognize a person as the child’s father.
This can be done by simply filling out an acknowledgement of paternity form at the hospital or birthing center their child was born at, however, it’s possible that a mother won’t establish a father’s paternity for him. In this case, the father can petition a family court and submit to a DNA test to prove paternity. A father has the right to gain child custody rights once he establishes paternity.
Custody Rights for Married Fathers
Married fathers have many of the same child custody rights in Texas that mothers do. In fact, married fathers have the same exact rights. Fathers who are married share custodianship of a child with the mother until divorced. This means a father has the right to make decisions for a child with the mother’s consent. Like mothers, fathers can also gain sole custodianship if the other party is unfit to care for a child.
The court may decide a parent is unfit for reasons including abuse, drug use, or instability in life or work. Also like a mother, fathers may receive visitation time depending on several factors. Because Texas operates under the “best interests of the child” rule, the father is granted visitation rights in most cases where a mother and father don’t hold joint custody of a child. If joint custodianship isn’t established, the mother will be assigned as the primary custodian.
Child Custody Rights and Family Law Attorneys
Though you now know the basics of child custody rights in Texas, navigating the family court system is difficult alone. It’s necessary to utilize a family law attorney to ensure your custody rights have representation in the courtroom. This is especially true in situations where you’re trying to gain child custody or when going through a divorce. A family law attorney can advocate for what you want the most and help you get it sooner. It’s important to talk to a family law attorney as soon as possible so your rights can be defended properly. A family law attorney will also ensure that you have someone on your side when it comes to child support. This way your child gets the help they need throughout their childhood.